Seriously, though, I am so excited that this community is starting to pick up. I'd like to remind the community: Special Note About Lurking: Please don't! Obviously you enjoy Tolkien, otherwise you wouldn't have joined. Talk to us. And that's all I'm going to say on that subject.
(I wrote a huge-ass, semi-comprehensible essay on this for fun one day. I decided to try and condense it a little, since I thought it would make a good discussion question.)
When reading the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, the reader is bound to notice differences in the two works. One of the most striking for me is how Tolkien deals out death in the Silmarillion like it's candy. Not so in LotR. Only one of the Fellowship dies, and (personally!) since he had acted like such a jerk before, I didn't care that much. None of the hobbits die. And when it finally seems like our beloved Gandalf is slain, he pops back up in Fangorn, white and shiny. At first I thought that Tolkien liked his LotR characters too much not to kill them off. But then I realized that there's nothing to suggest that Tolkien didn't like his Sil characters as much as his LotR ones. And most of them expired during the story. I think that if Tolkien would have killed off my favorite character, it would have made the story a lot more real for me. If Pippin had really been slain on the battlefield before the Black Gate, Sauron would have become even more evil for me. It's almost like we firsthand see how cruel war is.
Main Question: Why didn't Tolkien have more "character casualties" in LotR? And if [insert fav. character here] had perished, would it have really changed the story that much? Would you have a different perspective about the books? Would it have improved the story to kill off a main character?
Wow. That's a lot of questions. I'll stop.